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Lt. Governor Roberts Decries Health Insurance Rate Hikes, Declares Rates Unaffordable for Rhode Islanders

Providence, RI - July 7, 2010

Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts today spoke out against the ruling by the Office of Health Insurance Commissioner approving 2011 increases by all three health insurers in Rhode Island, ranging from 8.4% to 12.3% for plans offered by employers.

“Rate increases at any level are unacceptable and unaffordable for Rhode Islanders, and may put their jobs and health at risk,” said Roberts. “Many large and small businesses that are still struggling to recover from the recession are faced with choosing between hiring new workers and keeping health insurance coverage for their existing employees. Our state simply cannot afford to have employers and employees in this economic squeeze play."

Roberts continued, “I have repeatedly stressed the necessity that insurers look at ways to change the way healthcare is delivered and paid for to make it more affordable for Rhode Islanders. These rate hikes take us in the wrong direction as a state. The Commissioner’s ruling does offer one sign of hope for the future, however. I am encouraged that the commissioner is imposing strict conditions on the insurers to work with hospitals to address the cost drivers behind these rising premiums. Today’s ruling underscores the obvious--it is only through attacking the underlying costs of care that we will stem the tide of rising insurance premiums for Rhode Island employers and families."

The Lt. Governor has shown her unwavering commitment to working with all stakeholders to bend the healthcare cost curve downward as she continues the series of public forums in partnership with The Rhode Island Foundation, "Making It Work: Health Reform in Rhode Island." This effort is helping to inform the work of the "Healthy RI: National Health Reform Implementation Task Force” that the Lt. Governor formed in June to prepare recommendations for making the national health law work to Rhode Islanders' best advantage.

The next session of Making It Work: Health Reform in Rhode Island is on Thursday, July 15, 2010, 5:30 p.m., at The Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence. Harold Miller, executive director of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, will talk about how a community can shift from today’s healthcare system to a system of reform that works.

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